We are taught to honor our father and mother so that our days may be prolonged (Exodus 20:12). Before breathing a sigh of relief that this scripture is found in the Old Testament, Apostle Paul repeats this instruction in his letter to the church in Ephesus – teaching us that it is applicable to us today and reminding us that it is the first commandment with a promise.
But does this mean we have to acquiesce to every wish of our parents? Absolutely not! The bible tells us that we are to not to seek the honor that comes from man but to seek the honor that comes from God (John 5:41).
What does this mean? It means that we are never to honor the wishes of any man – including our parents – above honoring God. Why? This is because in being human, the wishes of our parents are at times driven by their fear, prejudice, selfishness, history, upbringing, culture, and life experiences.
In essence, the will and wishes of man is not always good for us and acceptable to God. Conversely, the will and wish of God for our lives is always good, acceptable and perfect (see Romans 12:2)
It is alright to honor the wishes of our parents only if what they want lines up with what God tells us to do as instructed by the Holy Spirit.
Put another way, our ultimate authority is God and not man – not matter how close the relationship! The perfect example of honoring God above man is that of Jesus. If Jesus had listened to his family, He would not have done the will of His father to do good and heal those who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). We know this because the bible tells us that His family wanted to whisk Him away from the crowd to which He was healing, setting free, and preaching. Why? They thought He was out of His mind (Mark 3:20)!
Have you wondered why Jesus’ teachings and wonderful miracles did not excite His family? It is because they were only thinking of themselves! See, Jesus was the first-born son of His household; therefore, the responsibility of caring for the family fell on Him after Joseph’s death. Being a skilled carpenter and not breaking a jot of the law, He provided for His family very well! How do we know Jesus was well off? We know for the God promised great things for those who kept his commandments and obeyed His voice (see Deuteronomy 28). Since God is not a liar, it is clear that He commanded blessings into everything to which Jesus put His hand – including His storehouse (see Deuteronomy 28:8).
See, the family of Jesus had it good! By Jesus leaving it all behind to embark on this new ministry of His, He had not only seemingly shunned His responsibility as the patriarch of His family, but they were also worried that He was no longer going to be able to provide for them! They would no longer live the good life. They wondered to themselves: ‘Why is He leaving this goodness to go perambulate the wilderness – just walking from place to place? God has blessed Him and given Him a duty to take care of us. And why is He going against our traditions? What will people say? Why is He simply throwing all He has away? Surely, He has lost His mind’.
You see, His family were being selfish in thinking only about themselves without pausing to think of how wonderful Jesus’ ministry was for those He was setting free.
Thank goodness Jesus did not decide to honor His family above the word and voice of God. Can you imagine if He had said: ‘Well, I must honor my family and so stop what I am doing’? How horrible for the entire multitude to which He ministered; how horrible for all humanity! Though His family did not understand, He understood what He was doing, and that is all that mattered. As we know, His own brother did not believe in Him at the beginning but would later come to understand and believe.
This tells us that every decision made in Christ will sooner or later be understood by all who doubted us. Why? It is because wisdom (the instruction of God) is always justified by her children (its results). In obeying the voice of God, Jesus not only honored God but ultimately honored His family and all humanity by paying the price for our sins on the cross and honoring us with a way back to God.
Moreover, He made sure His mother was going to be well taken care off as well (John 19:26).
The only way to truly honor man with love is to honor God. Anything done outside of God is not love but fear in disguise.
Food for Thought: I am right for honoring my parents, but I am wrong for honoring them above God.